Jobseekers using the government’s new jobs website, Universal JobMatch, have been receiving messages encouraging them to participate in clinical trials. Users have received multiple messages from the service inviting them to apply for jobs, only to find these ‘employment opportunities’ are actually clinical trials.
The Scriptonite Daily blog was contacted by 37 year old Job Seeker Chris Morgan, of Dartford, Kent – who logged in to Universal Job Search today to find five messages in his Universal JobMatch inbox inviting him to apply for jobs. These jobs were actually invitations to join a clinical trial.
Mr Morgan lives with his partner and two children aged 9 and 11 and has been seeking work since losing his role in Health and Safety for retail giant Marks and Spencer’s in November 2012. He had been with the company for five years before being dismissed. He has subscribed to Universal JobMatch in hopes of finding employment.
He logged in this morning to find five jobs recommended to him by the government’s online job service. He has been left feeling “sick to my stomach” after realising the government considers partaking in a clinical trial for £100 a day as his best current option of ‘employment’.
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Speaking to Scriptonite Daily Mr Morgan said:
“I was dumbfounded, shocked and so angry that my government would send me on clinical trials…I didn’t think I’d be put out to pasture this early in my life, to go and become a lab rat.”
He is now concerned that by declining this recommendation he would be considered as turning down an employment opportunity and therefore stand to lose his eligibility to claim social security.
The Desperation of UK Jobseekers
The UK Govt was today cheerleading the latest jobs figures which appear to show a mere 0.1% drop in unemployment rate in the last quarter. But the government simply ignored the bad news in the figures.
The number of men working full time fell by 272,000 and those in part time work rose 281,000. This is the highest number of people in part time work since records began in 1992. A third of those men in part time work stated they held those positions because they could not find full time work.
And the picture was no rosier for those who had managed to gain employment. While unemployment may well remain lower than equivalent austerity nations, the nature of employment is shifting in a worrying direction.
Wages have fallen for 36 of the 37 months of the Coalition government. This makes Cameron’s Coalition the the worst performing government in UK history on wages. No former Prime Minister in the history of our parliamentary democracy has seen wages drop for this length of time – not Thatcher, not Harold Wilson, not Ted Heath.
There has also been the rise of Zero Hours contracts, which mean working people are not guaranteed regular hours by their employer, or access to basic employment rights such as sick pay, paid annual leave or a notice period before dismissal. A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, found more than 1 million UK workers is now on a Zero Hours contract. Unison claim the figure could be as high as 5.5m but Full Fact found some issues with the methodology by which these figures were derived. Be it 1 million or 5.5 million – this is more than enough to seriously skew the unemployment figures, which showed a drop of just 24,000.
Professor Kim Hoque, a Professor of Human Resource Management at Warwick Business School, comments on the long term role of zero hours contracts and job insecurity on the UK economy.
“The flexibility they provide may well have enabled the UK to avoid higher levels of unemployment during the economic downturn. They may also have enabled some people to maintain an attachment to the labour market who would otherwise not have been able to do so. That said such contracts could also be seen as part of the wider underemployment problem that has affected the UK economy in recent times, with large numbers of workers on part-time or casual contracts wanting to work more hours but being unable to do so.”
The claimant count for Jobseekers Allowance also fell 32,600. Whilst this is being billed as good news, this has more to do with changes in eligibility criteria. All the government has to do to reduce the claimant count, is make people ineligible to claim. The Thatcher government was able to show a drop in unemployment of 550,000 in July 1986, and 668,000 in 1989 by transferring those unemployed into work programmes (workfare). They also kept an average 90,000 unemployed under 18 year olds off the books by making them ineligible to claim benefits.
In short, where once people could have claimed Job Seekers Allowance while searching for new employment, people are being forced to accept ever worsening working conditions or join exploitative government work programmes to attempt to stay afloat while the social safety nets are ripped away
Enough is Enough
The rising number of unemployed and underemployed citizens of the UK are having their desperation to survive exploited, encouraged into Zero Hours contracts, Workfare and now Clinical Trials. It is time for the UK public to say enough is enough.
If you have a job opening for Chris Morgan, or would like to send a message of support – you can find him on twitter here.
Contact the Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith to let him know your views. You can email him here.
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